U.S. Rep. Phil Roe questioned on Wednesday whether President Barack Obama had the authority to delay the employer mandate to provide health insurance coverage in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Roe, R-Tenn., is serving on a House GOP committee called the “Obamacare Accountability Project.”
The Obama administration announced on Tuesday it would not impose tax penalties on employers not offering health insurance coverage when ACA takes effect next year.
“As we make these changes, we believe we need to give employers more time to comply with the new rules,” Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to Obama, said in a White House blog posting. “Since employer responsibility payments can only be assessed based on this new reporting, payments won’t be collected for 2014. This allows employers the time to test the new reporting systems and make any necessary adaptations to their health benefits while staying the course toward making health coverage more affordable and accessible for their workers.”
Jarrett said employers with fewer than 50 workers will not have to comply with ACA’s shared responsibility policies. Instead, she said they will gain access to a Small Business Health Options Program giving them more purchasing power and access to tax credits.
For businesses with more than 50 workers and already offering health insurance, “you are fine — we’ll work with you to keep that coverage affordable,” Jarrett added.
Jarrett also said the federal government remains on track to hold open enrollment for health insurance exchanges on Oct. 1.
Roe, however, formally asked the Congressional Research Service (CRS) about Obama’s authority to delay the employer mandate.
“The administration’s delay is a formal admission that this law can’t be fixed,” Roe charged in a prepared release. “Delaying the employer mandate — while preserving the requirement that individuals purchase insurance — only postpones the inevitable catastrophe that is Obamacare.
“This action raises a lot of questions about whether the Obama administration can simply ignore the law when it’s convenient for them. As chairman of the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, I am going to get to the bottom of this question. I have asked Congress’ research arm to investigate because I don’t think any president has the authority to pick and choose what parts of law to follow. ... I stand ready to work with the president on real, bipartisan, patient-centered health care reform and I will continue to work on repealing and replacing Obamacare.”